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KILLING WITHIN THE LAW #3: MANAGING THE INITIAL POLICE CONTACT

2014-05-15-norwalk-homicide-04

One of the things that is incessantly being discussed in the CCW/LEO community is the after-event-discourse. In other words, what do you say...or not, after you have shot and killed an adversary. As expected, the variety of advice is as different as people's choices in guns and ammo. A prevailing attitude - promulgated by the liability-mongers - is to simply shut up and say nothing under any circumstances.

I disagree and here is why -

I have been in more than a few of these and also investigated quite a few of these. I noted some trends and tried to use those trends to my benefits when it was my turn at the plate.

First is the fact that you are the only one equipped to tell your story.  The bad guys you shot, if they survive, will not be "keeping quiet". They will be telling the police you pulled your gun on them, perhaps create some appearance of racism if they can exploit it, and generally make it look like you are the over-reacting bad guy. If the police are only hearing one set of supposed facts, and you are not talking, they will write their report with what they have, and rather than being listed as the victim, you will be listed as a suspect.

So picture this scene. Two thugs followed you for some time, maybe yelling threatening stuff at you. While you did your best to avoid the issue, you were unsuccessful in getting away and they pressed the confrontation, attacking you with sufficient force to justify a gun solution.

You shoot one of them, maybe wounding him - maybe killing him, and the other one runs off into the night. You saw the first man drop his pistol in a clump of ivy and the other man throw his knife on a rooftop as he ran away.

You immediately call 911 and give a very cryptic account of what happened..."there has been a shooting...I'm the victim...send help".  So far so good.

In the meantime, one of the assailants...the one who got away, is also calling. His story is a little different. According to him you called them "Dirty Ghetto Dwellers", and pulled your gun on them, shooting his buddy. As far as the police know...they got two calls. One a cryptic call, from someone who seemed to be concealing something, and another reporting what amounts to a racial hate crime by a right wing Nazi.  Now granted, they have been to that "area" before and they are forming an opinion about what really happened...but that is not enough.

They arrive on scene and after controlling the event, ask you what happened.

What you do now will have a bearing on the rest of your life.  But understand the backdrop of events.  You will get all manner of conflicting advice...specially from Youtube experts.  Everyone has an agenda.  My only agenda here, since I am not a lawyer, nor do I do any expert witness acts, is simply to tell you what I think after many shootings, homicide investigations, court room testimony, wrongful death lawsuits, and investigations for civil rights violations...all against me.

The guys who advocate saying nothing will not be able to point to the two weapons which were discarded...and which will disappear as soon as the scene is cleared. The police may not even look for them since no one told them they were in existence. No one will tell them you are a good guy who was a victim of a racially motivated beat-down robbery, as the ONLY info paints you in a horrible light.

Sure...you'll have a lawyer...but all of the evidence the police may have collected will no longer be available, and the investigation will not have been an even and equal one, but rather one where you alone are presumed to be the suspect. 

See the point?? I know a man who did just that...kept his mouth shut because of what a shooting instructor advised him to do and he spent several weeks in jail, had two criminal trials, and was  facing a civil suit from one of his attackers.  All because he decided to say nothing rather than something.

Is it hard to control your mouth? Yes it is. But no harder than to control your trigger finger, your desire to drink to excess, or to control the vertical displacement of your zipper.  Part of being a man is the ability to control yourself so rather than waste your energy on fantasy football, spend it on learning self control.  Self control is a learned thing and must be practiced daily. 

What I have done in the past, and what I teach my students is this.

At the first phone call, identify yourself as the victim.  Say it, "I am the Victim".

At the initial contact with Law Enforcement give a very limited statement, focusing on the actions of the bad guys, reiterating what they did - or tried to do to you.  This is where that "gentleman" persona will pay off dividends.  A Raylan Givens will be treated differently than a Dewey Crowe.  If at some point you want a "time out", and that is not a bad idea for true medical reasons as well as to simply catch your breath, collect your thoughts, and make any additional calls, it is a simple matter to ask for medical attention due to head ache, racing heart, etc.

Say something like this -

"Officer. I am glad you are here. Thank God. You saved my life from these guys" 

"I am a good guy. I am the victim.  I was minding my own business on my way home when those two guys attacked me."

"The one in the blue shirt had a knife. He threw it up there on the roof as he ran away down the alley. There should be some blood on it from my arm when I blocked his attempt to stab me."

"The guy on the gurney was armed with a pistol. He dropped it right there in that pile of ivy when he fell."

"It was so sudden.  I was terrified.  I am still terrified.  I am glad you guys are here. "

There...more micro statements pointing to roles in the event, evidence that can now be recovered, and additional investigative leads to apprehend additional suspects.  And then the "time out".

"Officer...I am still a little shaken up. I want to cooperate with you guys, but I have a huge headache right now and my heart beat won't slow down.  Do you mind calling paramedics for me...I think I would like a doctor to check me out".

I guarantee that you will not be asked any additional questions that night.  Things are no longer in your control but you have set the investigation on the proper course, and the truth will be determined instead of being overlooked.

 

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